Sunday, March 4, 2012

Apricot-Glazed Black and White Cheesecakes

As a kid I hated cheesecake (calm down), but it was, and still is (along with blueberry anything) one of my dad's favorite desserts. It was often found at our house, or my grandparents around the holidays. Each year I would try it again, and each year I would take one bite and that was it. At some point my taste buds changed, or I finally came to my senses and realized what I had been missing all that time. While I enjoy cheesecake from time to time these days, at the moment I have 15 apricot-glazed black and white cheesecakes (no link, or anything remotely close on Martha's website) on my hands that I'm not willing to eat all by myself. Due to the wedding now being 6 months away (yikes!) and my current shedding for the wedding extravaganza being in full force I need to unload these bad boys. Any takers?

My favorite part of cheesecake is the graham cracker crust. I could honestly eat just that straight from a bowl, but I don't because I would judge myself the entire time. These cheesecakes however were to have a chocolate cookie crust... works for me! Martha suggested using Nabisco Famous Wafers for the crust, so that is what I set out to find at the grocery store. I have looked for these before for some other recipe and couldn't find them. I was afraid that was going to be the case again. I was standing in the cookie aisle looking up and down and getting frustrated because I couldn't find what I wanted. I was seriously thinking about buying Oreos or some other creme-filled cookie and just splitting them, scraping off the creme and then crumbling the cookies to make the crust. Yes, it would have been a lot of work, but I needed a crust.

Finally, a light shone down from the heavens and there they were, hiding from me on the top shelf in a skinny little package. And, with a stroke of luck they were even on sale! It was a great day. I knew I needed three-quarters of a cup of crumbs, and I wasn't sure how many cookies that would take. I stood for awhile deciding it I should get 2 packages of cookies because I didn't want to get started and not have enough. But even on sale, the cookies were almost $4 per box and I'm on a strict wedding budget. I got one package and kept my fingers crossed that it would be enough. As I sit here writing this, and snacking on the extra cookies I can tell you one package was enough. I only needed about half the package to get the amount of crumbs I needed.

First, I crumbled the cookies using my food processor. It is an annoying cleanup, but it's much more efficient than putting the cookies in a Ziploc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. And since I was feeling lazy I just put the processor parts in the dishwasher after I was done. That's what it's for, right? I started to melt the butter for the crust in the microwave. I put it in for 30 seconds and then stopped halfway through to give it a swirl. Of course when I grabbed the dish it was in it was extremely hot and burnt my fingers. I couldn't believe the dish had gotten that hot in only 15 seconds. After I cursed and ran my fingers under some cold water I decided it would be better to just melt the butter in a pan on the stove. That way I wouldn't burn the butter, or any more of my fingers. It took a little longer, but it was the right way to go. I firmly pressed 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture into each cupcake liner. I ended up with enough crumbs for 16 cupcakes and I baked them each for 7 minutes with a turn halfway through.

While the crusts were baking and cooling I worked on the batter. I had remembered to let the cream cheese sit out overnight so it was room temperature and easy to mix. Other than almost forgetting to add the vanilla, everything came together well. The batter was just liquidy (technical term) enough for me to use my Pyrex measuring cup to pour it into the cupcake pan. I filled the liners as full as I could because that's what Martha said I should do, and baked each for 22 minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time.

Once the cupcakes were done I let them cool completely on the counter in the tins and then refrigerated them (while still in the tins) overnight. The following morning I worked on the apricot glaze, which wasn't really much work at all. Martha said that I should use apricot jam. Stop and Shop had apricot preserves. Whether or not they're the same thing I don't really know, but in the end the preserves worked. I heated the preserves until it was "loose" which to me just meant smooth, and I put it through a sieve so there weren't any chunks. I used my teaspoon and put a dollop of the glaze on each of the cheesecakes. Once the cheesecakes were dolloped (another technical term) they reminded me of a perfectly cracked egg, with the apricot glaze being the yolk. I think they would be really cute for an Easter dessert. I also think the apricot glaze could be swapped out for raspberry, strawberry or even blueberry (my dad would love those!) which is something I would probably like better as well. I didn't hate the apricot glaze though. It was quite good, as were my perfectly sized little cheesecakes. They are portion control at it's finest, right up my alley!